Exercise is an important part of my life. It’s part of what makes me, me! I love exercise – wait – I usually don’t love the exercise itself, but I love the feeling afterwards and the stress relief it provides. I’ve been regularly exercising for about 6 years now, never falling off the wagon. I think it’s an ingrained habit at this point, although motherhood has certainly made creating time for exercise much more difficult.
Before we went on the road, I went to the gym just about every day. I love group exercise classes, and there’s not one I won’t try! From Zumba to Spinning to Insanity, Bootcamp, P90X, Barre, Hot Yoga, PiYo…the list goes on and on. I love the energy and motivation I get from a group class. I didn’t go group exercise every day though – maybe a few times a week. On the other days I either went for a run or did weight lifting. I absolutely love lifting weights. It’s my favorite form of exercise. I specifically love lifting heavy weights.
Neither group exercise or lifting heavy weights are really a possibility on the road. If we ever stayed somewhere long enough, I could look at a gym, but our stays are usually between 2-7 days – not nearly enough time to make it worthwhile to go to a gym. So how do I exercise on the road? Here’s the breakdown
95% of my workouts are outside. It’s been a real treat to stand (or run) in some really cool places and see nature (this also can mean seeing snakes on your running path) but overall spending more time in nature while working out has been a beautiful thing. It’s hard when it rains. I usually look at the forecast and plan my rest day around the rain if I can.
Here are some of the tools I use for my outdoor workouts –
Aaptiv – Aaptiv is an phone app that is basically like a coach/trainer in your ears. There is also a playlist built into the audio, so I don’t have to find my own music. You can pick from many categories, like outdoor running, indoor cycling, elliptical, strength, indoor running, indoor walking, and rowing. You can sort by length and difficulty (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
The more I use Aaptiv the more I like it. I mostly use the “Outdoor Run” and “Strength” categories. I mainly like Aaptiv because I can find a workout and get right to it without much thought (less effort for me…hmm…seems to be a theme with what I prefer in exercise! It’s why I liked group exercise too). I don’t have to think about what moves to do, I don’t have to think about music – Aaptiv bosses me around. And I’m quite alright with that.
Aaptiv does cost money – I think it’s $9.95 a month, but I got a special deal sometime last year where they ran a special of a year for $50. I have 10 guest passes I can give away, so if you’re interested, let me know!
Fitness Blender – Exercise videos are a last resort for me. I don’t know why, they just don’t motivate me, or the person instructing annoys me. FitnessBlender is the exception to this. The trainers (Justin and Kelli) are not annoying at all, and I love their “For those who get bored easily” workouts (that’s me) where you never repeat the same move twice. Their videos are hosted in YouTube but use their website to search/filter by difficulty, duration, and equipment.
FitnessBlender is free!
Interval Timer app – Sometimes I just want to get a quick workout in. I have enough fitness classes under my belt that I can think up moves on the fly, so I set up an interval timer using an app on my phone and usually do 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off for 10 or 15 minutes when I’m looking for a quick heart rate spike. During the work intervals I do some HIIT moves or strength moves, and I rest during the 15 seconds (and figure out what I’m going to do next). There are lots of free interval timer apps for both Android and iOS, and I don’t have a recommendation for a specific one.
Running – Running has allowed me to see so much more than I would have if I just stayed at my campsite! It really helps me get the “lay of the land” when we go new places. Depending on the time of day, I either take Calla in the jogging stroller or she stays behind with Tim. Sometimes I am able to run during her nap, which is ideal. For runs, I either use one of the Aaptiv outdoor running workouts as I mentioned above, or I just kinda go. The problem with being new places is that usually I have no idea where I’m going, and usually I either get lost, look on a map before I leave, use my phone while I’m running to find my way back, or some combination of all of those!
3 of my running must-haves: my Timex watch (so dorky looking, but has been going strong for 6 years) and a good pair of shoes. For many years I ran in Brooks (Ghost/Glycerin) but they changed their design for 2017 and they didn’t feel like a good fit anymore. Now I run in the Saucony Ride and they have been good to me! I’d encourage anyone to go get fitted for a good pair of running shoes, it makes all the difference. I also use an Armpocket to hold my cell phone. After many years of buying $5 armbands and having them disintegrate, this one is a big improvement.
Running on the beach during our time on the coast was amazing. The miles went by so quickly and because of the wind, the sweat just evaporates. I ran many miles on the beach, and I always went barefoot. Some beaches are too soft/fine to run on them, and other beaches are so rough, they tear your feet apart. I’m sure you’d get used to it, but I gave myself some pretty wicked underfoot blisters on a couple of the beaches. It’s weird because you don’t notice that it’s happening, only after the fact.
TRX – I have a knockoff TRX (called a Woss – I looked but they don’t make it anymore!) that I use sometimes. It’s really high quality, it’s just that I don’t always have somewhere to hang it. You need a tree close to your campsite that has a branch big enough that you can hang the TRX on.
Strength – I still do strength training but it is limited since I only have 2 sets of dumbbells: 20lb and 10lb. I definitely miss having heavier weights and having the reward of getting stronger and stronger! I do bodyweight strength exercises but anyone that has lifted heavy for awhile knows that bodyweight just doesn’t compare to the feeling of iron!
Yoga – I don’t do yoga that often on the road (I did hot yoga a lot back in Pittsburgh) but I use my mat for a lot of the other stuff I do – ab work, a place to put my hands during mountain climbers, etc. I went through at least 10 cheap yoga mats before I decided to buck up and pay for a legit one. This yoga mat is amazing. It is so high quality and I don’t slip on it.
So far, I’ve done less than 10 indoor workouts on the road. A lot of times I just can’t justify the time to drive somewhere new, sign a bunch of waiver papers, and pay money – all for something that I can do by myself outside. That’s not to say there’s no benefit to it. I really miss group fitness and having a gym. But having to re-orient yourself to a new gym, new people, new classes all the time – it’s a bit much just for one class or one visit to a gym.
I’ve gone to a couple of drop-in group fitness classes and I also treated to myself to a hot yoga class. Also, on rainy days, I have brought my own equipment into the rec center/game room of a campground to do my workout. It’s pretty rare that the places we stay at have these kind of facilities though.
I do low impact, quick workouts in the RV (think 15 mins or less) if I’m really desperate, the weather is awful, and I have nowhere to go. I don’t like working out in the RV because I’m tall and any overhead movements mean I am touching the ceiling. I can’t even properly extend my arms for a shoulder press. Also, me jumping around the RV has to be hard on the leveling jacks. Not to mention the complete lack of space, because if the weather is bad, it means Tim and Calla are inside too. There’s no room to burpee in Trudy!
I definitely miss having the community feel of a gym, where I get to know people in the classes. I also miss the classes themselves and the weight equipment. I’ve managed to make it work on the road but I do miss the gym most days. Staying active on the road isn’t hard, as long as you make it a priority.